Editor’s note: Today marks the fifth, of seven profiles of candidates running for the Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative Board of Directors. The candidates are competing to fill three seats made available as three-year terms expire on the nine-man board. The candidates are: Carol Bain, Jim Mayfield, Peter Thielen, Dee Crowell, David Iha, Raymond W. Paler and Allan A. Smith. Ballots were mailed the week of Feb. 25 and voting will close at 12 p.m., March 17. Today’s profile is Jim Mayfield.
Seven years ago, Jim Mayfield read an editorial in the Kaua‘i Business Report that suggested Kaua‘i citizens purchase the assets of Kaua‘i electric. Within four months of taking on the monumental task, still holding his prominent community position in banking, Mayfield sourced the entire amount with a record low 4.2 percent financing. As the founder of KIUC, Mayfield is just as committed to serving the people of the community and forging new horizons in renewable energy resources as he was at the start.
“Without the on-going support from the USDA, federal and national co-op organizations I would never have been able to do it. Our expectation was that we could be more than just the energy provider for the island, that we would steer the company toward what the community needed and implement programs that would benefit them,” Mayfield said.
Proud of KIUC’s pioneering of publicly owned energy, “As the first community energy co-op in the nation, other communities can look to what we’ve accomplished and use it as a model.”
The national spotlight on KIUC and it’s vision is one reason Mayfield feels so invested in the future.
With Hawai‘i’s standing as the highest power paying state, Mayfield feels the co-op’s job is to bring that cost down and serve the Kaua‘i community. “With more than 20 million federal dollars at 0 percent interest to support specific renewable energy production, there is a real opportunity to serve the long-term needs of Kaua‘i’s energy consumers, without making the cost fall directly on families and individuals,” Mayfield said.
One of the programs that the co-op has been able to put in place under Mayfield’s time with the board is the loan program for other non-profits on the island. “We have access to borrow money at 0 percent interest and loan it to other local organizations to help stimulate business and community action. Kaua‘i Hospice borrowed $300,000 and has fully repaid the funds. This money is now available for other non-profits to borrow and grow,” Mayfield said.
While Mayfield’s commitment to KIUC is already extensive, the time he spends serving is something he willingly does to see what impact can be made. “It is difficult and a sacrifice, not only by myself, but by my family as well; but energy is a critical organ in the community, and as the co-op becomes a stronger community player, as it matures, KIUC can affect the entire economic and social growth of the island.”
The current emphasis placed on renewable, cleaner, and domestic energy sources is fully embraced by Mayfield, yet not at the expense of the individual consumer. “I’m dissatisfied with the current level of affordable, renewable energy at this time. We need to be more aggressive in identifying and pursuing this energy. With the 90 percent tax credit for qualified ‘high technology’ energy, added to the 10 percent federal energy credit, we can bring costs down to a level that is lower or comparable to conventional energy prices. This is a focus I will pursue intently with the board,” Mayfield said. “While others believe we need to move toward green energy no matter what the cost, I believe KIUC needs to balance moving toward these alternatives with the community’s financial needs in mind.”
Mayfield has a lifetime of financial management behind him that will assist in steering a company with a $200 million budget. “Each board member and nominee brings their own set of skills to the table — it takes many types of skills to run a co-op of this type and this size. Certainly, my financial background is appropriate in this capacity,” Mayfield said.
Beyond the economic and financial accounting necessary in this position, a vision of Kaua‘i’s future and development practices is vital as the board acts as a navigator for the energy monopoly.
Jim Mayfield created the concept of the co-op and looks forward to continuing forging new alliances and exploring energy innovation that best serves Kaua‘i’s community.
• Keya Keita, lifestyle writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 257) or firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor’s note: Apollo Kaua‘i, a group of concerned Kaua‘i residents fostering a secure energy future, mailed a set of questions weeks in advance of its Feb. 22 candidates’ forum, to those running for the KIUC board. What follows are the responses from Jim Mayfield.
1. What is your position on the use of coal for electricity generation on Kaua‘i?
If coal can move KIUC from where it is now towards this vision, it needs to be closely examined. Coal certainly meets certain elements within the statement. Sourcing of coal is reliable and appears to be very competitively valued. Use of coal should be no more risky than our current use of diesel.
The environmental issues need to be closely examined to determine their extent and the cost and efficacy of additional technologies to minimize the environmental issues. Above all else, the decision needs to be consistent with our member’s choice.
2. How, in your opinion, do we find the balance between short-term electricity costs and moving towards clean, renewable energy?
Rather than waiting for others to approach KIUC, we need to actively look for opportunities which will allow us to meet both goals. Why should we be satisfied with only one of these goals when we can meet both?
While everyone wants clean, renewable energy, not everyone is willing to pay a higher electric bill to support this energy source. So, the goal is to find a means of bringing the cost of renewable energy down to today’s avoided cost. (candidate response continued, go to www.apollokauai.org for full response)
3. Assuming no regulatory barriers, how far do you believe the CO-OP should go in helping the community achieve greater energy self-sufficiency?
KIUC should provide our members with the education and the mechanisms that will allow our members to take their own voluntary step in that direction. We should continue highlighting in our publications and public announcements the multiple steps members can take to improve their energy efficiency. This includes highlighting the savings available through the purchase of new appliances and compact, fluorescent bulbs as the coop is already doing.
We could be sponsoring seminars open to all members taught by acknowledged authorities on multiple subjects with the goal of providing our members with the knowledge they need to take steps towards higher energy efficient technologies and equipment. They key word, however, is voluntary and a requirement that any program meet KIUC’s vision statement.
4. What creative strategies can KIUC employ in working with the County and the community to reduce and ultimately eliminate the use of electricity for domestic hot-water heating?
KIUC is already providing either a credit or 0% financing to members who install a solar hot water system. It could provide further information to our members on the ability through Home Equity Credit Lines, mortgage refinancing and the incorporation of solar hot water systems in new home construction to enjoy solar hot water systems and lower energy bills.
5. Do you support the continued use of purchase power agreements for all new renewable energy projects undertaken by the CO-OP?
So long as the PPA provides a benefit to our members better than current or already planned for production opportunities and is in keeping with our vision statement, absolutely.
6. What is your position on distributed generation, and on KIUC’s role in helping shape a more distributed system of electricity generation in the future?
So long as the distributed energy production does not come at an additional cost to our members and can be incorporated into our system in a manner which improves the island’s energy reliability, I am in favor of distributed energy production.